Applications for jobless aid rise
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 352,000. The slight gain kept applications at a level consistent with solid hiring and suggests March’s sluggish hiring may be temporary.
The Labor Department report released Thursday also noted that the four-week average, a less-volatile measure, rose only 2,750 to 361,250. Because the four-week average changes less than the weekly number, many economists say it better captures the pace of layoffs.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They jumped three weeks ago to a four-month high but then plummeted the next week. The sharp fluctuations reflected volatility around the Easter holiday, department officials said. Overall, applications have declined slightly since January.
Job growth slowed sharply in March. Employers added only 88,000 jobs last month, much lower than the average monthly gain of 220,000 from November through February.